Engage Students with Online Discussions

Given our students’ agility with online communication, using discussion forums in Blackboard can be an effective way to engage students in the learning process outside the classroom. Here are some tips that emerged from the attached peer-reviewed paper on the topic:

  • To promote equity and allow marginalized voices to be heard, online discussions may allow students to participate who often need more processing time to contribute to a discussion.
  • Keep discussion groups to 14 or less.
  • Faculty should be somewhat “present” in online discussions to clarify concepts and keep students on track.
  • Some students may be more reflective, honest, and willing to discuss sensitive topics in an online discussion.
  • Prompt questions and discussion topics posed by the instructor should relate to your course learning objectives and build in complexity and depth as the semester progresses.
  • Online discussions should be assessed in some way (e.g. quality and quantity of students’ contribution to the discussion, whether or not students initiate discussions or just respond)

For assistance on how to facilitate an effective and engaging online discussion, contact the Technology & Learning Program.

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